The folks behind Overwatch have announced their plans for an all-new esports minor league for the game, called “Overwatch Contenders”. Overwatch Contenders will be a new development league for aspiring Overwatch esports professionals, allowing for players with no previous pro-gaming experience to try and break into the already somewhat-established professional scene for competitive Overwatch. Contenders begins this summer, with new open tournaments in North America and Europe.
Season Zero of Overwatch Contenders has already begun; players are now able to enroll in the open signup, online-only qualifiers, where they will play to determine the top eight teams in both the NA and EU regions. Each of these tournaments will have a prize pool of USD $50,000.
From there, the two regions will enter into their respective group stages. In North America, Season Zero’s top six teams will be joined by APEX participants Envy and Rogue for six weeks of round-robin play in Overwatch Contenders Season One. For Europe, the top 8 teams from Season Zero will will also play in a six-week regular season for Season One. These seasons will then lead into playoffs, with the top four teams from the NA and EU regions playing in separate final tournaments for a prize pool of $100,000 USD.
While the cash prizes are nothing to scoff at, Blizzard reminds players that there is “more than cash on the line…with organizations looking to fill their rosters for the launch of the Overwatch League, all eyes will be watching this summer’s competitive showcase.” This could be the big break that aspiring esports pros have been waiting for to make their first impressions and burst onto the professional Overwatch scene.
Registration is now open for Overwatch Contenders Season Zero, and games will begin very soon. For NA, Open Qualifiers begin June 3rd, the Group Stage starts June 17th, and Playoffs will begin on July 1st; for EU, Open Qualifiers will begin June 10th, moving into the group stage on June 18th, with the EU Playoffs starting on July 2nd.
In this Overwatch Contenders announcement, Blizzard also teases a new Overwatch Open Division, which will begin in 2018 and offer a continuing means for players to enter this new esports league after this initial first year of competition. The Open Division series of tournaments will take place in “select regions around the world”, and will offer up-and-coming Overwatch teams a way to demonstrate their skills and potentially earn a way into the Contenders tournaments; more information to come on the Open Division in the future.
You can read more on Overwatch Contenders at overwatchcontenders.com.